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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

256        HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

comprehensive review. His method, in short, is the method of
mathematics, and, according to Descartes himself, it has the same
certainty in its results.

About the same time as Descartes was writing his famous
Discourse, two Teaching Congregations, with a spirit so much akin
to his that they were later to call him master, arose to challenge
the educational supremacy of the Jesuits. The older of the two
was the Order of the Oratory of Jesus, which had been founded in
1611 for the education of priests, but had subsequently opened a
number of colleges and seminaries for the education of young
nobles. The Oratorians themselves were priests, and included
in their ranks many men of wide culture and liberal sympathies.
The humanities had an honoured place in their curriculum, but
not to the exclusion of modern subjects like history (especially
French history), mathematics, and natural science. And though
Latin continued to be the language of instruction with them, the
new-found pride of the French people in their own tongue, which
had led Descartes to write his treatise in French and had inspired
Cardinal Richelieu to found the Academy (1637), showed itself
in the use of French in the first four years of the course, and even
to a limited extent in the later years as well. Though never
rivalling the Jesuits in popularity or in power, the Order continued
its work up to the time of the Revolution, loyal to the Cartesian
faith in truth based on reason. When the Jesuits were expelled
from France in 1764, it was mainly from the Oratorian schools
that teachers were drawn to fill their places.

The second of the two congregations was that of Port Royal—
much shorter lived than the order of the Oratory but more famous
and more influential. Round the saintly Abbot of St. Cyran there
had gathered a little band of notable men, including two members
of the Arnauld family, who had left all to devote themselves as
" solitaries " " to a life of meditation, study and labour." Some-
time about 1637 they began to educate a few boys, and by 1646
the Little Schools of Port Royal were established by them in Paris.
From the beginning they were hampered by the enmity of the
Jesuits. St. Cyran himself was thrown into prison chiefly because
of his adherence to the heretical views of the Dutch theologian
Jansen, and died shortly after his release in 1643. In the same year
the strife with the Jesuits was renewed on account of a book by
Dr, Arnauld upholding the Jansenist doctrines, and ultimately